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Old 3rd November 2011, 03:45 PM   #1
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Default Tube Tester Recommendations

I am VERY new to the tube world so I need a lot of help.
Does anyone have recommendations for a tube tester? I don't have a lot of money to spend, $200-$500 preferred. I would like to avoid scratch building for now. something fairly recently calibrated would be nice but I know I may be pushing it with the budget limitations. My most pending needs are testing 12ax7 and kt88 family of tubes but I may need to test others as time goes on. Tube matching capability would be nice but I could live with just finding out if they are useable or not to begin with until I can do something better.

Thanks all ---
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Old 8th November 2011, 01:24 AM   #2
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Find an old Hickok
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Old 24th November 2011, 01:54 PM   #3
TV7 is offline TV7  Australia
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My favourites are
TV-7D/U ( 3 units )
TV-2B/U ( 1 unit )
Triplett 3444 ( hopefully one day! )
Hickok 539B ( also on the wish list! )

My suggestion is the TV-7D/U, try and stay away from the TV-7 U versions as I have noticed the tendency for leaky transformers, and the the D/U has an extra scale 'F' which makes it more popular. Although you probably wont need it, and of course if you find a 'special' TV7 U then who am I to argue. Just make sure it has all three adapters, both plate and grid leads and test booklet. For good units look to be paying $600 - $900. May sound like much but it's an investment. More battered units can go for $300.
Hope this helps! good luck.
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Old 24th November 2011, 02:42 PM   #4
TV7 is offline TV7  Australia
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Here is a picture of one of my TV-7D/U units made by ecco electronics. I personally re-furbished the casing to a high detail down to the black writing. The inside is like new. I guarantee you wont find a nicer TV7. (well maybe). The meter is a replacement by Dan Nelson, however I have an original TV7 DU NOS meter which is going in shortly along with a NOS manual and panel screws to complete the refurb. Then this will probably live on the shelf as It's too nice to use Sorry it's not for sale. But the pics give you an idea of what to look for.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 24th November 2011, 02:54 PM   #5
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I have not tried the Military versions of the Hickoks. I own a 539B after playing around with 533a's and 600's and 800's and being very dissatisfied. the 539B/C is just a much much better machine. BUT....ANY Hickok will need work. at this age the meters have lots of issues, parts are out of tolerance etc etc. So they will need some work to get into shape most likely!

I second the Triplett 3444 also, these are nice testers. and if you just need a go/no go type tester, the little sencore's do the job. they will at least tell you if a tube is shorted or not.


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Old 24th November 2011, 02:58 PM   #6
GloBug is offline GloBug  Canada
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The B&K 700 awesome!

Hickoks are overpriced,(because of popularity) only get one if you find a deal locally. A decent Hickok goes for well over $500 on the bay

Easier and faster to use and less expensive then a Hickok, ideal for "matching".

Better unit to replace the rectifier to SS if you ever need to.

I love mine, though it needs some TLC, I bought a "fixer upper" so I have a few sockets that don't work at the moment.

Got tired of chasing Hickok auctions to the +$500 and knew the B&K was a better choice form me anyways.

Set your heater voltage and dial the sensitivity for your particular tube, that's it. Easy.

Most other testers have loads of switches to be set up for each tube, and for each half of the tube.

I can fly through a box of tubes in no time with a B&K 700. Also there is good documentation out there for restoring and calibrating on if you need to.

Try to avoid the older tube testers if you can. The B&K is new enough it covers pretty much all the tubes your going to encounter.

Last edited by GloBug; 24th November 2011 at 03:03 PM. Reason: Tory Spelling
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Old 24th November 2011, 03:02 PM   #7
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Default B & K 747

(I have the 747, great tester, and usually quick.

I had a Hikok once, and it was awsome, but it got stolen.





Quote:
Originally Posted by GloBug View Post
The B&K 700 awesome!

Easier and faster to use and less expensive then a Hickok, ideal for "matching".
Better unit to replace the rectifier to SS if you ever need to.

I love mine, though it needs some TLC, I bought a "fixer upper" so I have a few sockets that don't work at the moment.

Got tired of chasing Hickok auctions to the +$500 and knew the B&K was a better choice form me anyways.

Set your heater voltage and dial the sensitivity for your particular tube, that's it. Easy.

Most other testers have loads of switches to be set up for each tube, and for each half of the tube.

I can fly through a box of tubes in no time with a B&K 700. Also there is good documentation out there for restoring and calibrating on if you need to.

Try to avoid the older tube testers if you can. The B&K is new enough it covers pretty much all the tubes your going to encounter.
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Old 24th November 2011, 03:05 PM   #8
GloBug is offline GloBug  Canada
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They must have know what they were stealing, that sucks.

I should add that Hickoks were the best for a number of years because they held the patent for a mutual conductance tester. That's why Hickoks are popular.

B&K 700 got around this, I just forget if the patent expired, or if they did something different to skirt the patent.

Avoid "emission" testers.

The B&K 747 is a variant of the 700, newer I think.

Last edited by GloBug; 24th November 2011 at 03:08 PM.
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Old 24th November 2011, 09:59 PM   #9
TV7 is offline TV7  Australia
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It's interesting to see others opinions about tube testers, I suppose my tastes are a little rich because of using cheap and nasty testers in the past that were nothing more than wooden boxes with 'junk' inside. Another reason I like the TV7 and TV2 series is because of their continuing popularity, (especially the TV7) plenty of repair and calibration information is available. And because these were military, the calibration instructions are detailed and reliable. ( or at least more so than commercial units!) One day I'll probably end up getting a little sencore mite to play around with, and the BK 747 units are tidy also. Anyone ever used the Sencore MU-150 mututal conductance unit? not so common yet maybe a cheap alternative to a non-emission tester.... Also here is a pic of my TV-2B/U. Bought on eBay a while back. Not cheap but take a look at the condition, seriously all the sockets were replaced during re-refurbishment, new paint (and dodgy writing) and all new meters make this one of the nicest TV2 units I have seen. Also not for sale sorry. This unit was re-furbished then placed on the shelf. (refurb tag still on unit handle) Enjoy!Click the image to open in full size.Sencore MU-1

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Old 26th November 2011, 05:10 PM   #10
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I have issues with my tube amp right now so that, in conjunction with the holiday, is resulting in me not doing so well keeping up with everything in a timely manner - sorry everyone.

Wow! There is a great deal of very helpful information here as well as a lot of beautiful and just plain cool equipment shown and described.

Sadly, my current situation dictates that I play it conservative right now so I must avoid the fine collectables and likely some of the items that fall into the 'best of the best' category.

The information everyone has been so kind to supply is a huge help to me and I will be using it on my quest.
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